What key performance metrics are on your inbound marketing RADAR screen?
I find that visualizing them in this way helps to simplify the question of how to analyze the overall effectiveness of your inbound marketing initiatives. Are they helping your business to grow … or not.
Here is essential the data you should be collecting, assessing and improving every month to optimize the performance of your inbound marketing engine.
Going around the RADAR screen in a clockwise fashion, I will describe each category of inbound marketing and the single most important key performance metric to focus on for each one. Of course there are many more that the eight metrics I have chosen to cover in this post. I believe these are the most impactful.
For your website, track visitors: A good way to look at your website is to think of it as your storefront. As such, you want to maximize the amount of traffic that visits your store. So track monthly visitors (referred to as “users” in Google Analytics) as your key performance metric for this category. Of course you can track the number of sessions per user and “new” versus “returning” users as well as a ton of demographic information about them. Don’t over-think this. In the beginning, just track monthly users and try to get more of them each and every month. Website visitors are a function of your page content – how easily it’s found by your target audience (using SEO) and how well it resonates with their interests (based on a buyer persona). Website traffic is also a function of your efforts to “get found” via social networks and media coverage (and potentially using paid search and advertising).
For your blog, track page views: Unlike static web pages that describe your products, services and solutions, blog posts are dynamic and present your thought-leadership agenda. They can opinionated, edgy and entertaining, but they must be authentic, informative and relevant to your target market. Blog posts serve many purposes: They drive traffic, educate buyers, establish credibility and serve as potential conversion points for your content offers and landing pages. Each post will have a different topic and this presents an opportunity for you to measure what matters most to your audience. Measure the page views for each post and cover more of the popular topics and less of the unpopular ones.
For social networks, track followers: Your online presence is shaped by how well you leverage your social media channels. Each one has a slightly different role to play: Twitter and Facebook for reach, LinkedIn business connections, YouTube and Slideshare for video and presentation publication and so on. Post frequently, curate lots of relevant content, promote your blog posts or educational content and engage with your community. The more followers you amass, the greater your reach will become and the more your social networks will operate as a powerful and targeted communications channel to the marketplace.
For online media, track mentions: As you build out your inbound marketing engine, don’t forget the role of the news media in building buzz for your company and awareness for your brand. Issue press releases on a regular basis. You don’t need an expensive PR firm to do this, but you will need a resource to write and release press announcements or to author guest posts and contributed articles. Getting independent media coverage for your company is incredibly valuable to your goal getting recognized as a player in your industry and driving more traffic to your website.
For content offers, track conversions: Anytime you offer premium content behind a landing page, you are increasing the possibility of converting visitors to your website into contacts for your marketing database. Like blog posts, content offers must be authoritative and educational in nature. They should also be mapped to one of three stages in the buyer’s journey (awareness of a need or problem, consideration for solutions and a decision to purchase). This allows you to nurture buyer interest and guide them toward making a favorable purchase decision. Each landing page has a measurable conversion rate. Be sure to track each one so you can determine which content drives higher conversion rates.
For campaigns, track ROI: Inbound marketing should include integrated and targeted marketing campaigns that present solutions to problems vital to prospective buyers. For example, a webinar showcasing a customer solution and its business impact can be targeted at a vertical segment that has similar buyers and business problems. The topic of the webinar can be featured on your blog with an invitation to register and promoted via social media. A fulfillment piece such as a white paper or research report can be offered to motivate registration and a free trial, demonstration or similar product offer can be presented to attendees. The turnout for this campaign will tell you about response rate. Converting those campaign leads into customers will tell you about lead quality. Measuring average customer value will tell you about campaign ROI.
For a marketing database, track contacts: All of the elements of an inbound marketing engine that I have described up to this point are designed to capture contacts for your marketing database. Once a contact is created, it should be segmented (suspects, prospects, opportunities, customers) and associated with appropriate lead nurturing programs to advance them through the sales cycle. Just like sales, marketing is a numbers game, so build the biggest database you can and cultivate as many buyers from that database as possible.
For your sales funnel, track leads: The ultimate goal of inbound marketing is to drive growth for your business. That means filling your sales funnel with as many qualified leads (i.e., educated buyers) as possible. Once perfected, your inbound marketing engine will turn out leads of consistent quality on a consistent basis. Content is the fuel for this engine so take the time to create the highest quality and most relevant content possible. Then tune your inbound marketing engine to maximize reach and conversion. Do this and you will see more top of funnel leads flowing in, middle of funnel leads being nurtured and bottom of funnel leads converting into customers.
Now measure yourself: If you want to see your own funnel metrics in action, download this Funnel Metrics Calculator and measure your conversion rates. If you want to measure your overall inbound marketing effectiveness, then take this simple Inbound marketing Assessment and see how high, or low, you score. Inbound marketing is a great strategy for cost-effectively launching and scaling an emerging technology business. However, it will only produce results if you invest time and resources into building it and continuously optimizing its performance. The key metrics described above are the best way to get started.